Flowers and Chocolates and Broken Dreams

Flowers and Chocolates and Broken Dreams

It’s never too late to claim a new life. It’s never too late for real love.

Flowers and chocolates, broken dreams.

Romance and kisses, silent screams.

Loving futures, years gone by.

Tears of joy, want to cry.

Brightest of morning, darkest of night.

Pureness of love, terror and fright.

Trust in the newness, worn by the old.

Feeling the warmth, frozen from cold.

We once believed, in all of our dreams.

That we could trust love, that words were not mean.

You showed us different, now different we are.

Survivors are strong – the strongest by far.

We don’t want words that cut like a knife.

We need one gift, a true and free life.

In Recognition of the Love We Lost, by Susan Sparks

In Honor of Valentine’s Day and a New Day for All of Us…

A Universal Truth About Love

Having lived with real love and having lived with abusive love, I have learned that there is a stark difference between the two. One is pure and strong and never dies. The other is toxic and corrosive and disguises itself as love, but is truly an impostor used to trick us. There is something born out of this notion that we all need to agree upon: love does not fail us, people do.

And not all people fail us. Someone did. Someone upon whom we once pinned all of our hopes and dreams, someone with whom we once saw our future unfolding, someone that we once thought we would spend the rest of our days with, failed us. That hurts. It cuts deep and it wounds us.

After this happens we are inclined not to trust love. Why would we want to? We once did and look what happened. The problem is that we put a lot of blame on love, and love really isn’t the culprit here. On this day of love, Valentine’s Day, it‘s a great time to remember what love is and what it can be.

Love is kind, it does not abuse. Love is generous, it does not withhold. Love is joyful, it is not scary. Love is freedom, it is not control. Love is a light that colors our lives, it is not a darkness that we keep within.

As Lord Byron so beautifully wrote:

…And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

When we are ready to approach love again it is important to remember that love did not fail us. If we truly believe that then we will never again step out there as complete beings. We will only stick a toe in the water and think it is burning hot. We will believe it hurts, but not really feel anything. It is our job to learn from our experiences. It is our job to become stronger from them. Then, it is our job, when we are ready, to approach love again with an open mind and an open heart.

I know from experience how difficult this is, and I still work at it every day. I have learned that love is an equal balance of feelings shared between two people: one does not always win, one does not always rule, and one does not always control. As SODA®s we once lived a life where we questioned love. But what we really needed to do was question the one who was telling us that they loved us. On Valentine’s Day and always, I wish you real love, peace, and joy. But more than anything, I wish you a happy and free life.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call or visit THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at: 1-800-799-7233 for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety. 

#NotInOurHomes   #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan is a twenty year victim and six year Survivor Of Domestic Abuse (SODA®). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. She has also studied and worked in the field of divorce. As Susan Sparks she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org) and other popular online sites such as Medium and Hollywood Life. She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at: www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Read This: It may one day save your life – or the life of someone you love.

Read This: It may one day save your life – or the life of someone you love.

How one boy taught us to ask for help without saying a word.

The other day I heard this story about a boy who avoided what could have been a serious danger by simply pulling out his cellphone. He was walking home from school when an unfamiliar car slowed down next to him. He looked directly at it and it slowed down more, now keeping pace with him. Feeling as if something was not right, he reached into his pocket, grabbed his phone, and began taking pictures of the car’s license plate. The driver saw what he was doing and sped away. That boy may have prevented his own abduction by listening to his gut instinct and acting quickly. This made me think about how often we tell our kids to put their phones away and how maybe we should be telling them when not to.

It also got me to thinking about the quickness to which he relied on his instincts to save himself, and when I stopped listening to my own? During a recent interview, I was asked why I wrote in flashbacks to my own childhood in my new book SPARKS IN LOVE. My answer was simple: it was the last time I knew myself as an intact person, before being changed by a life of domestic abuse. I once was someone who trusted in herself, who would listen to her gut when it was screaming at her to pay attention. Now I’m working to find that voice again, the one I pushed down so deep inside of me that it is barely a whisper on a silent day.

This story is so compelling because the boy used his phone, something our kids have in their pockets most of the time, and changed his life, without making a sound or saying a word. He had something the rest of us have in our purses, bags, or pockets most of the time as well, right? So it led me to think about how simple it can be to ask for help, silently, anytime. And I never thought about it that way before. I sat with my own teenage boys and told them the story. I needed to tell them to always listen to their own gut instincts. I wanted to find a way to get to them before the world did, and I wanted them to know to always trust in themselves first and act quickly.

Asking for help can be difficult. Especially for victims of domestic abuse who have long since lost their own voices. But, like the boy who just started clicking away, maybe sending a text would somehow be easier. It’s for this reason that The National Domestic Violence Hotline launched a feature where you can chat for help. And, I am pleased to announce that we offer a direct connection to that feature on TheSoda-Pop.com on our Get Help page.

Sometimes it is the bravery of others which inspires us. Sometimes it is the fear instilled in us from watching others narrowly escape with their own lives that will prompt us to action. And sometimes it’s just a simple solution, one you may not have known existed, being presented to you. That boy was a hero in his own life. You can be your own hero too. Just listen to your gut instincts. They were there all along. Read this story, pass it on. It may one day save the life of someone you love.

 

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

 #NotInOurHomes           #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan Sparks is a twenty-year victim and six-year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at  www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Why do I do this? Three simple words. Not so simple.

Why do I do this? Three simple words. Not so simple.

Why a Survivor of Domestic Abuse would work in the field of abuse.

This morning I was thanked publicly on social media for hosting a Super Bowl party that I did not host. In a home that I no longer own. By a family who does not know me. The innocent parent thanked Mr. and Mrs. X for having their son at the wonderful party and generously hosting so many families from our town. The Mr. X being, literally, Mr. Ex (my ex-husband) and the Mrs. X being his girlfriend, starring in the role of Mrs. X, in my old home, just a few miles from where I now live. A home that I paid for, a home where I once lived out some of my worst nightmares, a home that I try not to think about. Now, this morning, a home where I was forced to visualize a giant party filled with many families and children from my hometown on the night of the Super Bowl. And I was thanked publicly for hosting it – not my favorite way to start the day.

It is these moments, and countless moments like these every day and every week, that makes me think of the question I am asked during almost every media interview: Having escaped a life of domestic abuse, why would you turn around and dedicate your life to working in the field of domestic abuse? For so many who have lived this life and escaped it, telling their story is too difficult.  Others will spend years healing before they are strong enough to turn around and give back in whatever form they choose. But for me, there is a driving force that tells me that I need to do something now because this happened to me. And even bigger than that, this is happening to one in four of us.

Being someone who likes to attack issues strategically, it occurs to me that I first need to somehow get in front of this and slow down the speeding train. How do I do that? How do we do that? Because we clearly need to figure out a way to get in front of this epidemic in a way that stops it before it begins. So where does it begin? It seems that we need to reach out and educate our future victims before they have the chance to become a statistic – so we can change that before it ever happens. And if we can do that, if we can get there first, would we see change? I truly believe that we will. And that is why I do this. That is why I spend my days working in the field in which I once fled for my life: for the children. For my children. For all children. It’s just that simple, and then, not so simple.

When I face moments that are tough to deal with, I stop and see it through the eyes of my boys. They

are thriving. They are growing into wonderful young men. They are enjoying their lives. I am giving everything I have to be the best mom that I can for them and somehow, through all of the adversity that we have faced, we have arrived at this day. For the other children out there, those not yet touched by abuse, those who may be walking straight towards it, and those who may be fortunate enough to never get near it (but may be able to save another one day), there is work to be done. There is a message that needs to be conveyed to them immediately that doesn’t seem to be getting through.

No matter how great our parenting skills are, somehow we are not getting all the way through: girls use your words, boys listen to them. There’s so much more to say, but that is a simple place to start, and yet, not so simple. I’m here to remind all of us that we need to say this not once, but over and over and over. We will be changing or saving a life one day. That is what statistics tell us right now. It’s that important.

What we do next is entirely up to us. If we can’t lead an effort, then we can support one. If we can’t work in the field, then we can help raise awareness simply by using our own social media to help spread the word. And, if we can’t bring a crowd together to rally, we must know today that adding our own single voice to that crowd will be enough to raise the volume on a conversation that desperately needs to happen on a daily basis. If I can be thanked publicly for hosting a party that I did not host, then I can be helped publicly for hosting an effort that I am hosting. Please pick up the following paragraph and post it on your social media today – and ask everyone you know to do the same. It only takes one voice to make a difference. It only took one parent to thank the wrong person today and here I am telling the world about it.

 

———————————— PICK IT UP, POST IT, PASS IT ON————————————

Every child has the right to grow up in a world that feels predictable and live in a home that feels safe. Every year ten million children are exposed to domestic abuse and violence. Every day 20,000 calls are placed to domestic abuse helplines. Please add your voice to the conversation today and let’s change tomorrow for the sake of all of our children. For more information visit: www.thesoda-pop.com                                                          #NotInOurHomes  #TomorrowIsTooLate  Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

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If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

 Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

#NotInOurHomes           #TomorrowIsTooLate

Susan Sparks is a twenty-year victim and six-year survivor of domestic abuse (SODA™). Her reporting has been seen on national network news and her writing has been featured on national media. As Susan Sparks, she is an Expert on YourTango.com and has been featured on The National Domestic Violence Hotline (thehotline.org). She has written a book about her experiences with domestic abuse, Sparks in Love, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. She is the Principal of four enterprises, and one charity, all dedicated to helping people avoid, understand, and prevent domestic abuse. Susan is currently working on three other books to further the cause and hopes to bring Sparks in Love to television in 2019.

Follow Susan at www.thesoda-pop.com, FACEBOOK, Twitter, YouTube

Relationship Disaster Again? What You Can Learn From the Boss of You.

Relationship Disaster Again? What You Can Learn From the Boss of You.

You’ve had the answers all along – how will you use them?

I recently spoke with two members in the field of psychology and those conversations have rocked my world. Starting with one and ending with another, I discovered why I keeping messing up my relationships and how to stop. And it’s not a message that applies only to me, it’s universal. I can’t believe it could be as simple as this, but it seems that it is.

We have to start by agreeing that we can only control our half of the relationship – as a Survivor of Domestic Abuse (SODA®), I’ll be the first to tell you that if you’re with the wrong person there isn’t a thing you can do to help the situation – you should become familiar with the warning signs of abuse and understand when a situation is beyond your control and how to get out safely. Assuming that is not the case, let’s look at our half of the picture for a moment.

Simple question – would you hire you? Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a career professional, or anyone who has ever had to complete tasks for someone else, would you hire you? I’m guessing most of us would say yes. We all have some skills that can be used in the world to contribute to its success.

And, inherent in working comes a certain expectation of how we act in the workplace, correct? How we present ourselves – we dress for our work environment. How we interact with others – we control our emotions, even when it is challenging, in order to keep our jobs. How we communicate – we don’t call our bosses at midnight, we don’t triple-text them, we wouldn’t email them when we’ve had too much to drink, true? There are consequences for bad behavior at work – we need our jobs, we need our paychecks, our reputations mean something to us. Or, we need to be good moms, or good members of our communities – the same rules apply.

So, if we understand how we should be conducting ourselves when consequences are involved, and what that should look like to the outside world: Why wouldn’t we apply these same rules of behavior to our relationships? The conversation started for me with one psychologist when we agreed that I keep making the same mistakes over and over – repeated patterns of bad communication. I have a degree in Communications and have worked successfully in this field for quite some time. Something was definitely wrong here! This is where the lightbulb started flickering in my brain.

The conversation continued when I was brainstorming with a LCSW about why someone would say, “I always succeed professionally, but I suck at dating.” (Yes, it was me, I said that). Her thinking was that I may have had the answers all along, but I didn’t connect the two parts of my life. The lightbulb blasted so bright in that moment that I was blinded. I totally got it. Would I hire me? Of course. Would I date me? Uh, no comment.

What do we do with this information and how do we apply it? If we’ve had the answers all along, what are they? We have to go back to the basics and start with something that I think many of us miss: There are not just consequences for bad behavior at work. The same rules apply in relationships too. It’s obvious right? But do we think about them before we act? Bad behavior at work gets us fired. Bad behavior in relationships, well, you get it.

If we apply work conduct to our personal lives, what does it look like?

How we present ourselves – taking pride in our appearance is personal and up to us, but I think it’s something we could agree would be important in a relationship too.

How we interact with others – thinking before we act, considering the other person’s feelings, controlling our emotions while still communicating our own – if we can do that at work, shouldn’t we do that in our personal lives too?

How we communicate – if we don’t call our bosses at midnight, we don’t triple-text them, and we wouldn’t email them when we’ve had too much to drink, what would we do differently in our relationships? This one is slightly different because other rules sometimes apply in personal communication; however, we can still take a lesson about appropriate behavior and apply it here.

I have a proven track record of decades of employment where I’ve followed these simple rules and found significant professional success. I know in the 24 hours since I made this life-changing discovery that I have already stopped myself at least three times from behavior that I would not have stopped myself from a few days ago. My mind is blown over this. As I’ve picked up my phone to text, call, or email, I simply asked myself: Would I do this at work? All three times the answer was no, so I put my phone down and moved on. Not only do I not feel the anxiety that I would normally feel over making a bad decision, I feel a sense of peace washing over me that I may actually have a chance at not sucking at dating next time. If I keep this up for a few more days, maybe I’ll take myself out for a cup of coffee.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at:  1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™ 

#NotInOurHomes #TomorrowIsTooLate

10 Tips for Avoiding AND Escaping Domestic Abuse

10 Tips for Avoiding AND Escaping Domestic Abuse

Let’s countdown to a safer 2019.

For many, the holidays are a time of joy, togetherness, and warm memories made in front of crackling fireplaces. When friends, family, and loved ones come together, there are celebrations, traditions, and lots of presents to open. But, the holidays can look and feel very different for the family of domestic abuse. Key markers of domestic abuse are isolation, domination, and control in the home. So, what happens when friends and family want to come visit? And, how do we buy presents when we are cut off from our own resources?

The holidays add another layer of stress for the domestic abuse victim that many are not aware of, unless you’ve been there, and I was – for twenty years. While the New Year brings hope for the masses – making and keeping resolutions, finding new beginnings, planning for a better and brighter future – the victim of domestic abuse is just trying to get through that day, then the next, until the season is over. What can we do, as we reach the close of 2018, so that every person can share those same hopes and dreams?

Being a six-year Survivor of Domestic Abuse (SODA®), I made only one New Year’s resolution this year: To bring forward information on avoiding and escaping domestic abuse. If we’re going to count down to a new year, then let’s count down to a new life too. Let’s all share the same hopes and dreams for 2019.

COUNTING DOWN, HERE ARE TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO AVOID OR ESCAPE DOMESTIC ABUSE:

10. Get familiar with the 15 WARNING SIGNS OF DOMESTIC ABUSEKnow them so you can move away from relationships when you start to see red flags.

9. Be honest with yourself and ALWAYS TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCT. Is any part of you nervous or uncomfortable when you are with this person? Pay attention to your answers and let them guide your next steps.

8. Remember: YOU ARE THE BOSS OF YOU AT ALL TIMESWhen you meet someone, you are inviting them into your life to accept you for who you are. If you are being asked to change in any way, then something has already gone wrong and you need to think about leaving.

7. You get more than one CHANCE AT LOVE IN YOUR LIFEDon’t get stuck on the notion that you are with your soulmate and this is the only chance you will ever have at love. If you are a victim of emotional abuse, this person is keeping you from meeting your true soulmate.

6. If you think it is happening THEN IT IS HAPPENINGIf you see something that doesn’t seem right, take note of it and let others know. You may have already stepped into a trap that you are not aware of.

5. You’ll never find the man you love INSIDE OF THE MONSTER WHO SWALLOWED HIM™. I know all about this because I tried for twenty years. You may see glimpses of him now and again that give you false hope, but you can’t bring him back. Trying could be your demise.

4. If you are unsure if you are a victim of domestic abuse, learn from SOMEONE WHO LIVED WITH IT FOR TWENTY YEARSI created TheSoda-Pop.com just for this reason. Get information, read my blogs, and see if any of this begins to feel like your story, too.

3. Learn the laws and LET THEM BE YOUR NEW BEST FRIEND. I’m not a lawyer, but I can tell you what lawyers have said to me – if you are in fear for your life or your safety, know the laws in your state. Ask the professionals how they can help you protect yourself.

2. If you are a victim of emotional or physical abuse REACH OUT TO THE PROFESSIONALS TODAY AT THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE. They are there 365 days, 24/7. They will listen, advise, and help you determine what you can do next in order to remain safe and escape abuse.

1. IF YOU ARE IN IMMINENT DANGER CALL 911 – sometimes things escalate quickly and there is no time for anything other than a call for help. Be ready in case this happens to you.

I have renewed hope for 2019. I want to raise the volume on the conversations that we have in our country about domestic abuse. I’ll work every day to continue to get information out that can help all of us. But, I can’t do this alone. Please: avoid the situation when you see the red flags, and call the resources and get to a safe place if you need to get out. That is what I wish for you – that is my only resolution.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse or domestic violence or want further information PLEASE visit www.TheSoda-Pop.com or call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE at: 1-800-799-7233 or visit http://www.thehotline.org for more information, help, and to make a plan for your safety.

Home Should be a Safe Place for Everyone™

#NotInOurHomes #TomorrowIsTooLate